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    Senior Member mem286's Avatar
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    Default Interesting facts

    Why is a self-employed professional called a “freelancer”?
    The word
    freelance came out of the period between the fourteenth
    and sixteenth centuries, when mercenary knights with no particular
    allegiance would take their lances into battle for the prince or state
    that paid them the most money. They were referred to as freelancers
    by authors in the nineteenth century and operated much like the
    gunfighters in the American West. Now, a freelancer is anyone who

    works independently.

    This is for you Vicente!

    Why do Mexicans call Americans “gringos”?
    Some say that during the Mexican-American war at the end of the nineteenth century, locals heard the invaders singing “Green Grow the
    Lilacs” and simply picked up “gringo” from “green grow.” Others say that
    because the American uniforms were green, the expression came from a
    rallying cry: “Green, go!” But, in fact,
    gringo is a Spanish word on its own

    and is a slang insult for anyone who is fair-skinned and looks foreign.

    Why do we say “goodbye” or “so long” when leaving someone?
    The word
    goodbye is a derivative of the early English greeting “God be
    with you,” or as it was said then, “God be with ye.” Over the years its
    abbreviated written form and pronunciation became “goodbye.” As
    for “so long,” it came to Britain with soldiers who had spent time in
    Arabic-speaking countries, where the perfect expression of goodwill is
    “salaam.” The unfamiliar word to the English men sounded like, and

    then became, “so long.”

    Why do we use
    Xs as kisses at the bottom of a letter?

    During medieval times, most people could neither read nor write, and
    even those who could sign their names were required to follow it with
    an
    X, symbolizing the cross of St. Andrew, or the contract would be
    invalid. Those who couldn’t write their names still had to end the contract
    with the
    X to make it legal. To prove their intention, all were
    required to kiss the cross, which through time is how the
    X became

    associated with a lover’s kiss.



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    Default Re: Interesting facts

    But no Americans I know of end a letter with *** to symbolize kisses or anything else I can think of. I've yet to see a letter written by an American end in ***. (Maybe Vin Diesel does that when writing to his mom. I'll have to check.) What is somewhat common is to close a letter with XOXOXOXOX. (The number of Xs and Os varies as do the beginning and ending letters.) The X represents an embrace and the O represents a kiss.

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    Default Re: Interesting facts

    Actually, Thomas, as a kid I learned that "X" was kiss and "O" was hug. Later I learned about the history of the letter X in signatures (which I have seen in documents as recently as this year, when people who cannot write sign to assert something) and the story of the kiss. At the very least, it makes sense. Having an O represent the open arms of an embrace also makes sense...

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    Default Re: Interesting facts

    Also, should we be concerned that "gringo" is defined as an insult in the first post? Will that open up a new can of worms?

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    Default Re: Interesting facts

    Quote Originally Posted by ScottJ
    Also, should we be concerned that "gringo" is defined as an insult in the first post? Will that open up a new can of worms?
    I think it's already been discussed here: http://www.english-spanish-translato...ghlight=gringo

    Thanks for your comments!

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    Default Re: Interesting facts

    Yes, I was referencing that post in my comment, though I definitely should have placed the link.

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